López extends his scoreless streak to 19 innings and Taylor homers as Twins beat Pirates 5-1
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Pablo López pitched six scoreless innings, Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run homer and the Minnesota Twins beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 on Friday night.
López (9-6) allowed six hits and walked two, and extended his scoreless streak to a career-best 19 innings. He had seven strikeouts and is tied with Toronto’s Kevin Gausman for second in the majors with 187 strikeouts behind only Atlanta’s Spencer Strider (227).
“You have to work with what you have some days, and I put myself behind some counts, ran into some trouble,” López said. “But you can always control the very next pitch. So that was my approach tonight.”
López hasn’t allowed a run in his last three starts. He owns a 0.36 ERA over his past four starts, lowering his season ERA to 3.51.
“He’s doing everything at a very high level,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “When he needed it, he went to many, many different pitches, made a few in-game adjustments mechanically, which he still does even in the middle of a stretch like this. He’s still looking at things that might help him. He’s doing it all right now is what he’s doing.”
Taylor connected for his 16th homer of the season with two outs in the fourth inning to open the scoring. Donovan Solano had two hits, including an RBI single in the sixth for Minnesota.
The Twins won for the fourth time in five games and extended their lead in the AL Central to five games over Cleveland.
Andre Jackson (0-1) gave up two runs on four hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings for Pittsburgh, which has lost four of five. The one-time Los Angeles Dodgers prospect, who was acquired on June 25 for cash considerations, was making his second major league start.
The Pirates had plenty of chances to break through against López, getting a runner on base in every inning against the All-Star right-hander. But Pittsburgh went 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base.
“We had him in situations that we wanted him in,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “We did not capitalize and we have to capitalize. When you have run-scoring opportunities — and we had multiple early in the game — we’ve got to at least put the ball in play.”
Minnesota outfielder Matt Wallner was hit in the hand by a pitch in the seventh inning on a swing and was removed from the game. The team announced Wallner has a right hand contusion and Baldelli said initial tests didn’t show any signs of a fracture.
“His bones are like made of cement,” Baldelli said. “I don’t know how his hand isn’t broken because it looked like he got hit pretty squarely and he got called for a strike on the pitch, too, which means his hand’s going forward while the pitch is coming in. Luckily, it sounds like he’s OK.”
Later in the eighth, Pittsburgh reliever Yohan Ramirez hit Jordan Luplow and Royce Lewis with pitches and Baldelli said the two are fine.
Pirates: Ji Hwan Bae was activated from the 10-day injured list after recovering from a left ankle sprain. Infielder Jared Triolo was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. … RHP Dauri Moreta (low back inflammation) was scheduled to start a rehab assignment at Triple-A on Friday.
Twins: C Ryan Jeffers was scratched from the lineup with a sore back. Baldelli said Jeffers “probably could have played” and was available Friday in an emergency. … RHP Joe Ryan (left groin strain) made his first rehab start with Triple-A St. Paul on Friday. The only hit he allowed was a solo homer and he had seven strikeouts in four innings.
RHP Mitch Keller (9-8, 4.27 ERA) will start Saturday for Pittsburgh as Minnesota counters with RHP Sonny Gray (6-5, 3.04). Keller, a first-time All-Star this year, has received two runs or less of support in 11 of his last 13 starts. Gray has compiled five straight quality starts after his last outing was six scoreless innings against Philadelphia.
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